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Healthy & Fun Lunch Ideas for Kids


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my mom packed my lunch every day when i was in school. while there were definitely those days that i traded my grapes for someone else's chips, or brought my allowance money so i could buy an ice cream, overall im extremely glad i spent the majority of my formative years eating healthy. my weight gain was most definitely due to emotional eating and not knowing the difference between stress and actual hunger. now that im on the path to a healthier lifestyle, ive really started to appreciate all the ways in which my mother encouraged healthy eating growing up. im finally putting into practice all of the little things she taught me along the way about cutting unnecessary calories when cooking and eating balanced meals. Report
These are great suggestions but I have a critique. Peanut butter may not be a safe choice for lunches due to anaphylaxis concerns. WOWbutter is an alternative that tastes like peanut butter, is healthy and is safe for your child's classmates. Report
I love the ideas and I incorporate many of them into my own lunches. As a teacher I get about 30 minutes for lunch and that includes walking my students to the lunch room, getting me back to the teacher lunch area / work area. I get to eat and use the rest room and pick up my students all in 30 minutes, so the pre-chop, pre-peel is essential. Our students get 20 minutes in the lunch room, and any left overs must be tossed. Reusable container are also tosses. Boxes and insulated bags must be empty of all food when they leave. So much for buying nice containers to pack for the child. Also we send home a list of un approved foods each year, based on current student population and allergies - I mean anaphalactic (sp) response allergies. They may include peanuts, tree nuts, citrus (that was a new one for me), eggs, wheat, soy, ......... We are not allowed to remove those children to a different area for their protection, federal full inclusion laws do not just apply to Special Education students. Our school was monitored last year for Federal law compliance to our food service program. As a public school we receive subsidy money for the school lunch program. It was a real learning experience. Nice to say, we passed everything except minutes of table time for eating. So we adjusted the minutes at table, good for our little ones, who eat more slowly. We are also part of a huge program that serves only whole grains, with fresh fruit and fresh veggies every day, 1% milk, and reduced fat proteins. Also, increasing the number of times we serve legumes in lunches. It is taking some time for students to adjust to newer healthier menus. Our 3rd grade grows a spring to summer garden every year, and those foods are scrubbed for raw sampling or steamed for a cooked sampling. A couple of our aides volunteer to provide summer care, and there are summer veggies when they return to school in August. We are a relatively small district of about 4000 students. Most of our schools have gardens, our High School has a green house and raises vegetable and flower seedlings for the schools and for the community. Report
I have heard that freezing water in plastic releases plastic into the water. i used to freeze my water, but no more, I really don't want to ingest plastic. Report
This is a great article with great ideas; however I struggle with the protein because we are not allowed to send nuts/seeds of any kind to our school and no eggs either. :( Report
I just found a new blog via a pinterest pin that I now love! It relates exactly to this article and idea of healthy packed lunches. This woman is fabulous at creating balanced lunches.

Here is another great site for ideas too.

I couldn't not share :) Report
I pack up most of my boys' lunches the night before (refrigerating what needs to be kept cold) - all I do in the morning is assemble the sandwich and then put it all in the box. Much less stress for me this way!

One of my friends packs 5 small containers of things her children are willing to eat (at least 2 are fruits & veggies). They have to eat at least 3 at lunch. When they get home and want an after school snack, they first have to finish whatever is leftover in the lunch. This could be a good approach with picky eaters - early on you might want to include reminder notes in the lunch box, and stick with things you know they like. She's seen great success with this! Report
My husband and I pack our food for the entire day, every day. We try to eat 6 small meals a day so this can be a challenge. We have invested in good insulated bags, plastic storage containers, travel utensils, etc.... After that it's all about good food choices and variety. It's harder than eating at home, but we always have our food and NEVER have to eat junkie fast food. Report
I drive a school bus and substitute teach. When I substitute I try to take a lunch with me. I freeze a bottle of water (or two) to use in my lunch box. This keeps my food cold plus it gives me cold water to have on my afternoon bus route. Some school districts allow the students to have bottled water on the after school buses because of the heat. If parents would freeze the bottles of water first, then it would serve a dual purpose for the kids. Report
This has me laughing - "mock-meat deli slices (found in the natural foods section of your local grocery)". Shouldn't natural foods be, um, naturally occurring, as in, found in nature? Report
Where my grandson goes to school there are children with peanut allergies, so he is not allowed to bring peanut butter to school! Report
My daughter (who just started college) was always a packer. The best investment I made was spending the money for a good thermos. The small ones cost about $15-20. We used it for years and it allowed me to pack homemade soups and leftovers. Her favorite lunch was homemade lentil vegetable soup with homemade whole grain bread to dip. She also loved chili made with turkey and extra beans. I would give her baked tortilla chips to dip. I always packed her fresh fruit and although she wasn't much of a veggie fan, we found a few ways to sneak them in. I also made a lot of her "dessert items" and was able to make them whole grain or low fat. It sounds like a lot of work but didn't take more than a Sunday afternoon to make a few things. Then we were both set for the week. She started college on Monday and she is commuting. We debated whether to buy her a meal plan but when she saw the food, she pulled out the old thermos and her Vera Bradley lunch bag and packed herself something healthy. Hopefully these healthy habits continue and she won't have some of the food and weight issues that I have had. Report
I love peanut butter and banana sandwiches but my eight year old won't go near them. My brother-in-law suggested peanut butter and honey. Is honey better than jam? She also won't eat deli meats. Report
I worked in the school system for many years and have spent my share of lunches in the cafeteria. If parents only knew what % of their children's lunches ended up in the garbage they would be shocked. There really needs to be better communication between you and your child about what goes into that box. Usually the desert and the chips get eaten first and if there's time, maybe a bite out of the sandwich....and as far as fruit, especially whole fruit....we could stock a supermarket with all the beautiful whole apples that get tossed away. I would suggest that the fruit is somehow cut up and packaged because then kids seem to actually attempt to eat it. I loved the idea of having a selection of choices from each food group and letting the children pack their own into their boxes. Then the meal is what they wanted and may make it into their tummies. The important thing is to get some nutrition into their little bodies even if it's not necessarily balanced can work on that with breakfast and supper when you're there to monitor them. It's the policy of most schools not to force children to eat their lunches...we "encourage" them to eat as much as they can, but the end result is that they eat what appeals to them and the rest is garbage. Report
thanks for the comments...........great ideas;;;;;;;;;;lyonking Report

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